Lion cubs bred in captivity. Picture: Audrey Delsink
Two South African hunting associations that embrace canned lion hunting have lost an appeal to  retain their membership to Europe's top hunting organisation, and have been thrown out of the  International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation for breach of policy.

The decision was taken by the international council's general assembly in Madrid.

The expulsion of the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA) and Confederation of  Hunting Associations of South Africa (CHASA)  is considered the strongest rejection of South Africa’s hunting  policies, as well as of bodies which support canned lion or captive-bred lion shooting operations which are  widely regarded as unethical and unsportsmanlike.

The expulsion follows a  policy reversal by the two hunting bodies in November last year to support the captive  lion hunting industry, and permit membership of their organisations by persons who  engage in the practice of captive bred lion shooting. This is despite the fact that in 2015, PHASA  members voted unanimously to reject captive lion hunts at the body’s AGM  in Polokwane.

Tamás Marghescu, Director General of the International Council said that “both organisations had exercised  their rights of appeal in accordance with the statutes, but failed in their bid to be reinstated.  At the 65th General Assembly  held in Madrid on May 4, an appeal was heard concerning the decision by the  executive committee to expel the two organisations.  The members decided by 114 votes to 3 that the  organisations were in breach of policies and the expulsion was  confirmed. There were 9 abstentions.” 

In September 2016 the executive committee of International Council adopted the  International Union for Conservation of Nature 13  which  called on the South African government to terminate the hunting of captive-bred lions.

Since PHASA’s 2017 AGM in November, the world’s leading hunting institutions have moved to  distance themselves from the organisation and the canned lion hunting industry, which continues to tarnish South Africa’s  conservation reputation.

The decision to expel to expel the two organisations was widely welcomed by representatives of prominent  African hunting bodies and organisations.

Danene Van der Westhuyzen chairperson of the  Operators and Professional Hunters  Associations of Africa  and vice president of the Namibian Professional Hunters Association  said both organisations  supported and applauded the decision . "It shows a movement towards unity, but even more so, that hunters condemn any such  unethical practices.” 

Custodians of Professional Hunting South Africa president Stewart Dorrington said:  “The decision is not surprising. The International Council has always  emphasised ethics and sportsmanship in hunting and are very conservation minded. Anybody who  supports the captive bred lion industry in this day and age, will continue to isolate themselves from  the world and their allies.

“The lion industry may be economically sustainable but is is not socially sustainable. The public will  not tolerate it and will mobilise to close it down.

The South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association president, Gerhard Verdoorn, said:  “The past two years have been an awakening for all hunters to return to the principles of hunting,  namely the fair chase of a wild animal in its wild state and in its natural environment.  Shooting captive bred lions, often in appalling conditions, simply don’t satisfy these criteria."

Several unsuccessful attempts were made to contact Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa exco members for comment.

Meanwhile, the Brandfort lion breeding farm and slaughter-house discovered by the Free State SPCA last week, belongs to a former SA Predator Association  council member Andre Steyn.

The gruesome discovery of at least 54 dead lions and a further 260 plus lions in captive conditions  at Steyn’s farm, Wag n Bietjie, last week, sparked public rage over lions and tigers  that are bred for the bullet and skinned for their bones for export to South East Asia’s widely  unregulated medicine markets and wildlife body-parts trade.
The Independent on Saturday